By Aaron S. Robertson
At age 27, and having served as president of a small Internet marketing company (which I co-founded) for 2.5 years now, I'd like to share some of the wisdom and insights I've gained with other young entrepreneurs:
1) The business world isn't as cut-throat as you might think.
Growing up, I had this perception that the world of business is like a brutal jungle, with every man for himself. Of course, watching films like Wall Street didn't help.
But the truth is that, at least if you're a small business owner (as opposed to multi-national conglomerate owner), you'll notice that there's actually a high level of cooperation and collaboration among other small business owners. A lot of small businesses depend on one another for survival.
2) Don't rent office space unless you absolutely have to for logistical reasons.
7-8 months into the life of our business, we rented office space, thinking that it would bring our business greater exposure and perhaps even the occasional walk-in traffic. That decision, admittedly, turned out to be a huge blunder in many ways.
Perhaps the biggest problem with that decision is that we were so used to working out of our homes before we got the office, that when we did get it, that habit really didn't change. So the result was that the space went largely unused for the year that we had it.
Add to it that we locked into a one-year lease in a time of great economic crisis when businesses large and small were slashing costs left and right, and the space really became a huge financial burden on us. And of course, we fielded no walk-in traffic.
In the end, we realized that we didn't need the space at all. Our homes were, and remain, sufficient enough for our line of work. If we need to meet with people, such as prospects or clients, we go out for coffee or a meal, or meet them at their office if they have one.
As young entrepreneurs having grown up in the "Internet Age", it's so easy for us to get on e-mail, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. and communicate with others.
But as much as the Internet provides countless opportunities for communicating, networking, learning, and doing business, the keyboard can never replace the value of getting together with people face-to-face. Building meaningful relationships is a key ingredient to the recipe for business success, and this can only be truly accomplished in person.
Have one-on-ones with like-minded professionals and seek out networking groups and events to expand your contacts and horizons.
4) You're going to make mistakes...accept them.
Mistakes -- sometimes ones that will cost money -- are going to happen. That's business, and that's life. We're only human. Accept them, learn from them, and move on without dwelling on them. Sure, we all get upset at the time. That's natural. But dwelling on them is not worth the toll on your health.
As much as I was upset over the money we came to waste on our office space, I quickly realized that the amount paled significantly in comparison to what our future as a company would bring. It definitely was not the end of the world. In the grand scheme of things, that money will just be pennies...if even that.